Choosing a Hospital for Your Delivery
One of the first things an expectant mom starts thinking about is the delivery experience you want and where you will deliver your baby. "We know new moms look for information online and talk to other expectant moms as they choose an OB provider and start planning for the birth of their baby," says Jennifer Baugher, team coordinator at Sentara RMH Medical Center Family Birthplace in Harrisonburg.
Can You Choose Your Hospital?
Expectant moms may not realize you do have a choice when it comes to where you deliver. Your obstetrician (OB) and your insurance provider are factors in this decision. Start by finding out which OB providers and hospitals are covered by your insurance. Next, you'll want to find out where your OB or midwife delivers.
What If My Doctor Doesn't Deliver at the Hospital I Prefer?
Your OB needs to have "privileges" at a hospital to deliver babies there. And while it is ideal to deliver where your OB has privileges, you may choose to deliver at another hospital. It's worth doing some research to make sure the hospital where your OB has privileges also has an approach to the delivery experience that meets your goals.
A Common Misconception
"Your preferred OB may not be on call for your delivery," says Sabrina Shiflett, director of patient care services at Sentara RMH Medical Center. "Depending on when you go into labor, there could be an OB on call that you haven't met or a doctor who isn't from your OB practice."
Given this information and recognizing another hospital may be a better fit, some new moms opt to deliver at a hospital other than where their OB delivers. There are several reasons you may want to deliver at a different hospital.
Some Reasons You May Choose a Different Hospital:
- You and your family may not want to drive further than necessary, both for the birth itself and afterwards. This is particularly true for women who anticipate fast labor.
- You value a low-intervention birth with specialized options such as a hydrotherapy tub, mobile monitoring. You desire to have a nurse on hand to assist with low-intervention techniques.
- You may need a higher level of care for your baby, for example, access to an Intermediate Care Nursery and neonatologists
- You have toured several locations and the one you're most comfortable with is different than where your OB delivers.
Concerns About Delivering at Another Hospital
"We've heard concerns from expectant moms who are touring our birthing center and worry they'll endure unnecessary testing if their OB doesn't deliver here. That isn't an issue, because we are able to obtain prenatal records from other facilities to ensure that we are up-to-date with their pregnancy and labor," explains Baugher.
And regardless of who is providing prenatal care, patients who decide ahead of time to deliver at Sentara RMH Medical Center Family Birth Place can also pre-register ahead of time, making their admissions process as efficient as possible.
What about "Surprises"?
"In some cases, we have patients who choose to deliver with us due to a fast progression of labor," says Baugher. An expectant mom recently made a late decision to deliver at Sentara RMH Medical Center Family Birth Place because she didn't want to drive further while in labor.
"She was not anticipating delivering here, but it was no problem. We have an excellent team of highly qualified OBs, certified nurse midwives, and nurses at the ready," adds Baugher.
It's Your Birth Experience
Ask a new mom what she wants for her birth experience and you'll get lots of different answers. The best delivery experience is one that recognizes your goals and provides the people and resources to make your birth plan happen.
"Ask what types of comfort options are available during labor and how you will be supported," Shiflett recommends.
For example, the Sentara RMH Medical Center Family Birthplace offers many options to keep laboring moms comfortable during labor, including nitrous oxide, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, TENS units and birthing balls. Sentara RMH also offers additional pain interventions for labor, like IV and epidural medications that are available upon request.
While in labor, support comes in the form of the entire care team. Another decision point may be the desire to have a dedicated nurse with you during delivery. "We offer a highly skilled labor and delivery nurse by your side every step of the way who will collaborate with you during your labor," Baugher says.
A Doula May Provide Peace of Mind
A doula is a trained labor and birth assistant who helps pregnant women before, during and in the immediate hours after labor and delivery, regardless of where they give birth. A doula is familiar with your birth plan and serves as a liaison between you and the rest of your birth team, which helps create continuity of your care from before labor through postpartum care.
Special Care for Baby, Too
In addition to the birth experience, expectant moms may want to research the levels of infant care a hospital offers. Ask if your newborn may be transferred to another facility if it needs a higher level of care.
"Sentara RMH has a Well Newborn Nursery staffed by pediatric hospitalists as well as an Intermediate Care Nursery staffed by neonatologists who specialize in the care of newborns who are premature or sick. This means moms delivering here have the peace of mind knowing if their baby needs specialized care, it can take place at the same place they've delivered," says Baugher.
Take Maternity Tours
Baugher and Shiflett encourage families to schedule a maternity tour at the locations they're interested in. "Our in-person maternity tours guide you through what to expect. Ask the same questions at both facilities and see what feels right for your needs," she says.No matter where you are birthing, how many times you've given birth or how you're giving birth, we want you to feel safe, heard and trusted. We take great pride in providing high-quality family-centered care," concludes Baugher.